NICP Open Statement on the Proposed Reduction of Tax Incentives for ICT-Enabled Industries May 31, 2017
We, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Councils of our respective cities, provinces and regions from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao under the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines most respectfully appeal to His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines and the 17th Congress of The Republic of the Philippines for the continuation, retention and expansion of current fiscal incentives of Information and Communications Technology - Business Process Management (ICT-BPM) companies in the Philippines in order to generate jobs and investments especially in the countryside, sustain the growth of the said industry, which accounts for the increase in the country's GDP along side OFW remittances, and achieve the current administration's target to ensure inclusive socio-economic growth.
The proposed tax reforms of the current administration are laudable especially insofar as increasing the net income of the middle class by reducing individual income tax base. But taxation is not only a means to generate revenues, it is also a tool to develop and grow industries that are relevant and sustainable especially in areas where there are less jobs and opportunities. Across the globe, developing countries use tax incentives as a means to attract direct foreign investments to solve unemployment, engage in technology transfer and intensify development of preferred industries.
Today, the Philippines is among the global leaders for ICT-enabled jobs, because of our very strong customer service culture, excellent English communication skills and high-level of digital literacy. But above all, from the countryside perspective, the Philippines has leveraged on the strength and potential of its non-metropolis locations or provinces which abound with talent. Seventy percent of the country's graduates are outside of Metro Manila and because of the attractive national tax incentives and the dynamism of provincial locations through its respective ICT councils, ICT-BPM companies have started to set up in Tier 2 and 3 cities, thereby creating the necessary jobs and investment opportunities. Real estate facilities such as ICT parks and centers accredited under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority has begun to flourish in the provinces and thus stimulating the real estate and allied businesses. Because of the thousands of jobs generated by these companies outside of Metro Manila, the growth of support services such as food, transportation, health services, housing and other ancillary services have all increased. The educational sector has been continuously upgrading its quality due to the global requirements. Filipino entrepreneurs have begun to set of up their own companies to also share in the ever increasing global demand for services and digital products. Many provinces have followed the lead of industry associations in creating ecosystems for high value ICT services such as animation, game development, health care information management, finance and accounting, software development, and many other complex segments.
By reducing or removing the current set of tax incentives for ICT-BPM companies - the most affected segment is the provincials locations which currently take advantage of national incentives under a centralized government structure.
Introducing VAT on BPO services could have very damaging repercussions for growth, expansion and sustainability of this industry in the countryside. The inevitable implication for BPO services will be an increase in cost, affecting employees current benefits, and any form of expansion and at worst, for them to explore low-cost economies for their BPO operations.
It is our most humble appeal that the government retain the current incentive package of the ICT-BPM industry and encourage their expansion in provincial location. In the alternative, we appeal that these companies be allowed tax deductions for any relevant talent development programs it will invest in to grow and ensure the quality of talent in the countryside.
We fully support the goal of the current administration to create jobs and investments for inclusive and together with the government, the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) and all its member ICT councils vow to contribute ONE MILLION ICT JOBS by 2022 in the countryside.
National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP)
Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue
Head, NICP Public Sector and Policy Committee
Stephanie Rosalind R. Caragos